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J Neurosci. 2013 Jan 9;33(2):678-86. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1404-12.2013.

LTP-induced long-term stabilization of individual nascent dendritic spines.

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Center for Neuroscience, University of California Davis, Davis, California 95618, USA.


Learning new tasks has been associated with increased growth and stabilization of new dendritic spines. We examined whether long-term potentiation (LTP), a key cellular mechanism thought to underlie learning, plays a role in selective stabilization of individual new spines during circuit plasticity. Using two-photon glutamate uncaging, we stimulated nascent spines on dendrites of rat hippocampal CA1 neurons with patterns that induce LTP and then monitored spine survival rates using time-lapse imaging. Remarkably, we found that LTP-inducing stimuli increased the long-term survivorship (>14 h) of individual new spines. Activity-induced new spine stabilization required NMDA receptor activation and was specific for stimuli that induced LTP. Moreover, abrogating CaMKII binding to the NMDA receptor abolished activity-induced new spine stabilization. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that, in addition to enhancing the efficacy of preexisting synapses, LTP-inducing stimuli promote the transition of nascent spines from a short-lived, transient state to a longer-lived, persistent state.

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